BlackBerry WES 2010, Orlando |
RIM’s sexed-up smartphone OS will sport a slick new UI with revamped apps, Webkit browser, multiple home screens and RSS feeds. Plus: get ready for ‘Super Apps’.
The sixth-gen BlackBerry OS is set for release by September, to arrive on new BlackBerry handsets as well as upgrades for the majority of modern BlackBerry devices.
RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis pinned the date and previewed the OS, named simply BlackBerry 6, during his keynote address at the company’s annual Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Orlando, Florida.
The UI has been recast for a cleaner and more modern look with multiple finger-friendly ‘pages’ on the home screen, iconic tap-and-hold popup menus for context-sensitive tasks, and all the expected multitouch gestures. However there appears to be no ‘live widget’ support, as seen on Windows Phone 7 and several Android UIs including HTC’s Sense.
All the core apps are being redesigned and a new Webkit-based browser with tabbed pages promising to vastly improve the BlackBerry’s mobile Web experience.
New baked-in apps include RIM’s own Twitter client
, an RSS feed viewer and an integrated app for managing social networks.
The demo hinged heavily on users tapping a touchscreen rather than swiping a trackpad, and although the former certainly makes for a slicker pitch it also shows that RIM now considers touchscreens as the main game and will likely introduce further touchscreen models beyond the current Storm 2.
The first of these could be the rumoured BlackBerry 9900
which combines the touchscreen of the Storm 9500 family with the best-in-class keyboard of the Bold 9700.
A copy of the keynote demo is now up at the BlackBerry YouTube channel
so you can get a glimpse of the new UI and other features (plus mandatory backslapping for RIM schill Will.i.am and The Black-Eyed Peas).
Lazaridis also spruiked what he calls ‘Super Apps’ – BlackBerry-speak for advanced apps which use push data and tie into core BlackBerry apps such as the Inbox (for delivering social networking updates) or the Calendar.
Super Apps are “ an integrated, visual experience”, Lazaridis said. “Email was the original BlackBerry Super App, now developers can take advantage of the BlackBerry platform to deliver there own Super App.”
RIM is also keen to promote its BlackBerry Messenger instant messaging service, which has always been among the platform’s best-kept secret. “BlackBerry Messenger transforms the way people work and play. It’s all about delivering the best communication experience, right now”, Lazaridis said.
But while he cited the BlackBerry user base or ‘community’ as being “41 million strong” (with over 10 million BlackBerry devices sold in the first three months of this year alone), BlackBerry Messenger has only 20 million users – so there’s still plenty of room for awareness and use of the service to grow.